U.K. Lawmakers Mull Psychedelics Reform

Lawmakers in the U.K. are warming to the idea of relaxing the restrictions on psychedelics such as psilocybin. 

Benzinga reports that Labor MP Charlotte Nichols “opened the discussion around the need for medical access to psilocybin-assisted therapy” by supporting “the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), the Conservative Drug Reform Group and several other organizations” in their push for reform.

Nichols said it’s time for the U.K. to reschedule psilocybin under the country’s two-decade-old drug statute.

“There are serious and considerable barriers to legitimate research, associated with Schedule I regulations,” Nichols said, as quoted by Benzinga. “While current legislation does not preclude scientific research with these drugs, it does make them significantly more difficult, time-consuming and costly to study.”

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“She provided an example of a researcher that found he had to invest £20,000 to apply for a Home Office Schedule I license and retrofit his lab to current standards to study psilocybin therapy for Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) while being able to work with substances like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine with no similar restrictions. Nichols further denounced the currently existing ‘huge credibility gap’ between psychiatry and politics for this matter.”

Psychedelics have emerged as a central focus of the drug reform movement around the world. The University of Exeter, located in the United Kingdom, announced last month that it will offer one of the first postgraduate qualifications on psychedelics in the world.

The Guardian reported at the time that the “certificate from Exeter University cements psychedelics as an area of scientific importance in the U.K.,” and that it “could help pave the way for clinical therapies becoming available within the next five years, with some treatments being in the final stages of clinical trials.”

“The programme will capitalise on Exeter’s world-leading psychedelics research, and will be named Psychedelics: Mind, Medicine, and Culture. It was unveiled at Breaking Convention, Europe’s largest psychedelics conference,” The Guardian reported. “The programme is targeted at healthcare workers and therapists, as well as anyone interested in the emerging potential of psychedelics, including those who wish to tap into a psychedelic healthcare market predicted to be worth £8.4bn by 2028. The certificate will cover a broad range of topics, including teaching about existing psychedelic therapies and research in psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience, as well as modules on philosophy – such as the insights into consciousness and metaphysics that psychedelics give – and discussions of decolonising psychedelic research and practice, including an anthropological look into cultures which have used psychedelics for centuries. Students will also learn practical skills, such as therapeutic techniques and research skills.”

There’s been a similar flowering of psychedelic research in the United States, where lawmakers have also pushed for reform.

In Minnesota, lawmakers created a so-called Psychedelic Medicine Task Force that will “advise the legislature on the legal, medical, and policy issues associated with the legalization of psychedelic medicine in the state.”

The task force’s duties include examining “existing studies in the scientific literature on the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic medicine in the treatment of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, and any other mental health conditions and medical conditions for which a psychedelic medicine may provide an effective treatment option.”

Earlier this year, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to legalize psilocybin for personal use among adults aged 21 and older. In Colorado, psychedelics, including psilocybin, have been decriminalized after voters there approved a measure last year. 

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